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(Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) Author(s): Murray Cantor ISBN: 0471253030 Publication Date: 08/01/98

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Inadequate and Unstable Requirements

Software projects derive from a customer's need. Someone must want you to deliver something useful or that person would not be willing to pay for its development. These needs are captured as requirements, or the specifics of what the system must do. For example, despite the complexity of bridge building, it is comparably easy to specify its requirements: a bridge needs to connect point A to point B, withstand storms, and be able to carry a certain volume of traffic. Barring any geological surprises, it is possible to completely specify a bridge that fully meets requirements.

Software projects, too, are governed by a list of requirements. Unlike the requirements for a bridge, however, which do not change often, specifications for building a piece of software are frequently added and changed throughout the development cycle. Establishing stable software requirements and communicating them effectively is the challenge.

Thus, one of the software project manager's critical skills is the ability to manage system requirements. Software systems are often intended to support complicated operational needs, such as automating office work, managing mission-critical tasks in an aircraft or weapons system, or supporting and handling complicated financial transactions. These systems are so complicated that any attempt to fully specify their capabilities is bound to fall short. A 1994 IBM study (Gibbs, 1994) found that 88 percent of large distributed systems that met published requirements were not operational. In fact, the most disciplined government programs in terms of requirement specifications have been the most spectacular failures.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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